New fraud trends evolve constantly. Below you can find information on specific threats we believe could pose a risk to our existing and future clients. You can read more on the following topics;
Clone firm investment scams
You can’t become complacent when it comes to taking steps to protect your money from financial crimes. Fraudsters are always working out new ways to try and outwit us. One of the latest trends being reported from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is in ‘clone firm’ investment scams.
Clone scammers selling fake investment products pocketed over £78 million from UK citizens in 2020, with victims losing £45,242 on average.
What are clone firm investment scams?
Clone firm investment scams are financial operations which involve fraudsters using literature and websites that mirror the details of authorised firms, like pension providers or investment platforms.
They’ll try to convince you that they work for a genuine company and use high-pressure selling tactics to get you to buy ‘investments'. These ‘investments’ are worthless and often aren’t even offered by the company they’re pretending to be.
5 tips to help spot them
A seemingly genuine call to promote an investment – Scammers might call you promoting an investment or offer you money in exchange for your shares. We’d never do this.
Asking to send application forms by email – Scammers often ask you to send applications by unsecure email. Where possible, we’ll ask you to complete an application on our website, over the phone or by post. If you need to send an application by email, protect the attachment with a password and let us know what the password is separately.
Trying to discuss your personal information by unsecure email - If we need to talk to you about your HL account, we’ll contact you by secure message, which is sent to your online account.
Offering to invest in a product the genuine company doesn’t offer - HL will never call you to promote a particular investment or product. Scams on social media and search engines have become more popular with fraudsters recently.
Insisting you send money via bank transfer - Scammers often ask for money to be sent electronically to a bank account, overseas bank account or a currency exchange provider. The quickest and safest way to send us money is usually by debit card via our website or by calling us, but if you need to send us a bank transfer, you can contact us securely to verify the correct details before you make a payment.
For lots of fraudsters, this is a full-time job. They have the time and expertise to try and build a relationship with you. These scammers are extremely persistent and their aim is simple – to take your money. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Protecting yourself from scams
Check the firm contacting you is FCA-authorised
The FCA authorises almost all financial services companies in the UK. If they’re not authorised, it could be a scam. You can check the Financial Services Register to see if a company or individual is authorised or registered. If you’re contacted by a company you’re not familiar with, you should always check the register before you act.
Check the company contacting you is genuine
To make sure you’re being contacted by a genuine company, you should call their switchboard number which you can find on the FCA Register. If they phone you, it’s usually best to end the call, check the register and then call the company back on the number found on the FCA website.
If you can’t find any contact details on the FCA Register or if the firm claims they’re out of date, check by calling the consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768.
If you’re dealing with an overseas company, you should check with the regulator in that country and also check the scam warnings from foreign regulators.
Remember, phone numbers displayed on incoming calls are easily spoofed by fraudsters to make it appear they’re calling from the expected location or company. If you don’t feel comfortable then it’s completely acceptable to stop, think and check before taking any action.
Check the FCA Warning List
Use the FCA Warning List to see if the company is known to be operating without the FCA’s permission.
Even if a firm isn’t on the FCA Warning List, it might still be a scam – scammers will change names and details all the time.
Reject unexpected investment offers whether made online, on social media or over the phone. Be wary even if you made the first contact.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed
Call your bank straight away – they’ll be able to help you with the next steps.
If you’ve been defrauded or experienced cybercrime you should report it to Action Fraud either online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
If you've started a pension transfer and now suspect a scam, call your pension provider straight away. They might be able to stop it.
You should also report what’s happened to the FCA either online or by calling 0800 111 6768.
If you’ve noticed any suspicious activity on your HL account or think your account might’ve been compromised, then please contact our Online Support team on 0117 980 9984 as soon as possible.
Help with the emotional impact of fraud
Falling victim to fraud can have a huge emotional impact as well as being financially crippling. Victims can often feel embarrassed and don’t want to tell people what’s happened, even though they’re not to blame.
If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, you can contact Victim Support either online or via their support line on 0808 168 9111. You can also contact The Samaritans at any time of the day or night on 116 123.
If a scam has left you struggling financially, you can contact Citizens Advice. You can speak to an adviser to help you find a way forwards, via their Adviceline. They are available 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday. If you live in England call 0800 144 8848. If you live in Wales call 0800 702 2020.
Tips to help you
- Keep wise to any out of the blue calls, texts or emails from anyone claiming to be from HL, your bank or other trusted organisations.
- We will never ask you to share your full security number, passwords or usernames.
- If you ever receive an unexpected high-pressure call and it seems suspicious, hang up.
- Check a company is legitimate – You can check up on investment or financial service companies here.
- Don’t click any links in a text message or email. Instead, go direct to the correct website via your browser.
If you are still concerned, contact the firm on a known number to establish if the communication was from them and if the link is safe.
- Stop - take a moment to think before you part with your money or information.
- Challenge - Could this be fake? There’s nothing wrong with rejecting or refusing to do something. Only criminals will pressure you into making a decision.
- Protect - If you think you’ve been scammed let us know or if it’s in relation to your bank account let your bank know.
Help with the emotional impact of fraud
Falling victim to fraud can have a huge emotional impact as well as being financially crippling. Victims often feel embarrassed and don’t want to tell people what’s happened, even though they aren’t to blame.
If you need to talk to someone about how you’re feeling, you can contact Victim Support either online or via their support line on 0808 1689111, or Think Jessica, a charity committed to protecting older people from fraud and scams. You can also contact The Samaritans at any time of the day or night on 116 123.
If a scam has left you struggling financially, contact Citizens Advice to help you find a way forward. You can speak to an adviser through its national phone service Adviceline, on 03444 111 444, which is available from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.
Received a pop-up from Google Chrome when entering your details?
On December 10, 2019, Google announced better password breach warnings, with an updated “Password Checkup Extension” built directly into the browser for Google Chrome users, which scans over 4 billion records to make recommendations on updating existing security details.
This may result in a warning appearing when you access various websites that require login, including the Hargreaves Lansdown website.
Find out more about password protection in Chrome.
I'm concerned, what should I do?
We’d like to point out that our clients have no reason to be worried. No data has been accessed and we welcome the announcement by Google to increase its security measures - this is a good thing.
Hargreaves Lansdown takes the security of its clients’ accounts extremely seriously. We are fully committed to providing a secure home for our clients’ investments, and as such, security is always at the forefront of our endeavours.
We agree that regularly changing your password can be one of the simplest yet most effective defences against unauthorised access to your account.
Top tip: You can change your password at any time by logging into your account and clicking on the ‘account settings’ tab.
If you should have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch.
Cold call from Hargreaves Lansdown?
Hargreaves Lansdown never cold call investors offering investment opportunities.
Investment scams often involve high-pressure selling tactics in order to get investors to purchase investments that are either worthless or non-existent. The initial contact usually starts with a telephone call that comes from out of the blue, and fraudsters will often purport to be calling from well-established, regulated firms in order to appear legitimate. The FCA refer to these as ‘clone’ firms.
Hargreaves Lansdown will never:
- Call you out of the blue to promote an investment or offer you money in exchange for your shares.
- Ask you to send application forms by email. You can apply online via our website or by telephone by calling 0117 900 9000, and if you want to send a cheque please send your application by post to our registered address: Hargreaves Lansdown, One College Square South, Anchor Road, Bristol, BS1 5HL.
- Discuss detailed information regarding an application or transaction with you by unsecure email.
- Ask you to send money via bank transfer to a bank account, an overseas bank account or a currency exchange provider.
If you believe that you have received a cold call from anyone purporting to work for Hargreaves Lansdown, please contact our Investment Helpdesk on 0117 900 9000.
- Reject Cold Calls;
- Always do your own research; and
- Remember, if something sounds too good to be true it most likely is.
If you are in any doubt put down the phone and call us on 0117 900 9000.